Irrawaddy Business Roundup

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 14 November 2020

Yangon – After Sunday’s general election, Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on Monday that the government will prioritize its COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

The World Bank in Myanmar said this week that firms across the country have been severely impacted by the second wave of coronavirus.

However, Myanmar saw more domestic investment during the 2019-20 fiscal year than the previous year, despite COVID-19.

A Singapore firm, Ascent Capital Partners, also announced this week that it will invest in the country and Myanmar’s government approved Japanese participation in the giant Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

Myanmar approves $1.5b in investment 

Myanmar approved more than 1.9 trillion kyats ($1.5 billion) in 130 domestic investments during 2019-20, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

This week, U Thant Zin Lwin, the DICA director-general, told the media that the body approved 200 million kyats ($154,000) more in investment than during the previous fiscal year.

The investments focused on housing development, hotels and tourism, power supply, oil and gas, arable farming, livestock, fisheries and mining.

U Thant Zin Lwin said the investments are expected to create more than 23,000 jobs.

Singapore firm to invest in Myanmar 

Singapore’s Ascent Capital Partners stated on Nov. 11 that it will invest US$88 million in Myanmar because it believes in the country’s economic potential.

Founder Lim Chong Chong said he expected to see stable economic growth in the country.

“In spite of the short-term tailwinds facing the economy, we remain positive about Myanmar’s long-term potential” he added.

The firm said its investments will focus on consumer education, health care, financial services and technology.

Ascent Capital had previously invested a US$26 million combined investment in the telecommunications company, Frontiir, which is operating in Myanmar.

Japan joins Dawei SEZ project 

Japan has officially asked to join the development of the Dawei SEZ Tanintharyi Region.

This week, U Myint San, vice-chairman of the SEZ management committee, told the Myanmar Times that the Japanese government sent a proposal to the governments of Myanmar and Thailand expressing an interest in participating in the Dawei SEZ.

After approving Japanese participation, Myanmar said it was now looking forward to Japan’s financial and technical support to immediately start construction work after long delays.

Myanmar says Dawei will be Asean’s biggest project of its kind, about eight times larger than Thilawa SEZ in Yangon Region and over 10 times larger than Kyaukphyu SEZ in Rakhine State.

World Bank highlights COVID-19 impact

This week the World Bank in Myanmar said the economic impact of the second wave of COVID-19 has been significantly more severe on Myanmar’s businesses than the first.

According to a September survey of 500 firms, the World Bank said around 83 percent of firms in the country reported negative impacts, an increase from the 75 percent reported in August.

Firms of all sizes in Yangon suffered from temporary closures in September when the government imposed a stay-at-home order for all but essential businesses to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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